Cambodian Street Food

I’m continuing my voyage of discovery with regards to Cambodian street food here in Siem Reap. Everything is “new” to me, yet familiar due to their similarity to Malaysian/Singaporean food (with pronounced variations, of course).

  1. Nom bao, essentially steamed meat-filled buns introduced by the ethnic-Chinese to Cambodia. In Thailand, it’s called “salabao” whilst in Vietnam, it’s “bahn bao”. In Singapore & Malaysia, where the ethnic Chinese populace are large, the Chinese term “bao” is used.


  1. Cha kway - another street snack introduced by the Chinese to Cambodia. It’s called “yu cha kway” in Penang & Singapore (Teochew & Hokkien pronunciation), “yau cha kwai” in mainly Cantonese-speaking KL & Ipoh in Malaysia and Hong Kong, “youtiao” in Mandarin-speaking parts of China & Taiwan, and “chakwe” in Indonesia.

  1. The same street vendor also sells nom heng, which is “hum chim peng” in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Same taste/texture replicated here.

  1. Sach ko ang - Cambodian beef satay, very well-marinated before barbecued over a brazier. Love the smoky aromas and sweet-savoury flavour. “Sach ko ang” vendors normally offer beef liver besides beef skewers. Both are good.

An essential accompaniment to the beef skewers is “chruck”: pickled green papaya-cucumber-carrot relish, similar to Malay “jeruk” (in fact, both are pronounced the same way).

  1. Nömpang - the Cambodian version of the more well-known Vietnamese “banh mi”: baguette sandwich filled with pate, cured meats & daikon-cucumber-carrot pickles. There’s a slight difference between the two, with the Cambodian version having a rather super-spicy chili relish which practically rendered my tongue numb.

  1. Ansam chék - grilled banana leaf-wrapped glutinous rice roll with a banana centre.

  1. Nom chiak - Cambodian rice flour-coconut milk cake. It has a toothsome texture, and a delicious woodsey aroma from the grilling.

  1. Nom plai ai - glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar & coated with fresh, dessicated coconut. This is a very common dessert in Malaysia & Singapore known as “onde-onde”. In Indonesia, the same dessert is called “klepon”. But whilst the other version have green-tinged rice balls (through the use of pandanus juice for the colour & aroma), the Cambodian version has white rice balls.

  1. Nom keo - Cambodian version of the empanada. The version here is shaped like Malaysian or Indonesian curry puffs, but with a non-spicy minced pork & vegetable filling.


  1. Kro Lan - a sweet-salty glutinous rice and black-eyed pea sweet grilled in young bamboo tubes over open-fire. Once grilled, the bamboo casing will be peeled off like a banana skin.

  1. Nom groy - these are deep-fried glutinous rice balls filled with sweetened, mashed mung beans. Studded with black sesame seeds which are fragrant when deep-fried, these delicious golden-fried balls have a crisp and slightly chewy exterior, but soft & yielding underneath.

  1. This deep-fried pastries filled with shredded turnips (of Chinese origin) are absolutely delicious. I asked the vendor for the Cambodian name but lost it when I accidentally threw the slip of paper away. Irregardless, I’ll be looking out for this snack again the next time I am in Cambodia.

Most of my time here, of course, have been spent visiting Siem Reap’s rich collection of historical monuments. Hope to be able to acquaint myself with more of the local food items soon.


I hope you will be fine with the street food. Most people got different degree of stomach / intestine problem, including a Singaporean we met (an experienced traveller) got very sick and could not join us for dinner in Phnom Penh. We were lucky, only mild pain limited by our medicines.

I have post some of the street food we ate back in June, July in What’s for dinner.
The food here were from stalls in Siem Reap.

Banana fritter with black seasame - crispy crust with melting banana interior

I saw in another stand, the cook hit the banana until flat with some wood and covered with mixture and the dough and fried. Not bad at all.

Grilled coconut hotcakes - really good!

Fried fish ball, sausage - a bit similar to the Chinese equivalent, they ate with very hot sauce

Stired fried noodles


On a boat in Tonle Sap lake near Siem Reap.

Pickles with dried shrimps - not sure if it was the white part of spring onion, a dish to accompany drinks

Grilled crocodile meat - a treat offered by the driver of the boat. Pretty dried and tough, texture not particular interesting.


I found a use for unwanted table or floor fans… :wink:


I’m keeping my fingers crossed here! So far so good.


I didn’t realise the fans back then, wow very observant.

Interesting and timely subject. Once upon a time, I was proud of my iron clad stomach. Now upon further reflection, I realize I was not as strong as I thought (just merely forgetful). I had a serious nasty bout of intestinal problems in China/Hong Kong 20 years ago (can’t use squat toilets, double whammy!!) Then a similar affliction en route to Singapore from Taipei a few years later. I just had my last bout on a trip to London, the screwed up part was, I was exhibiting the early symptoms while still on the plane from SFO to LHR, even before I touched ground. That sucked.

I’ve been doing research, and learned that taking Pepto Bismol decreases the chances of traveler’s intestinal disorder. Now I always bring the Pepto, with Alka Selzer for minor problems, and some prescribed antibiotics just in case.

Leaving for Hong Kong and Tokyo on Monday, fingers crossed!!

1 Like

Beware of flu in Hong Kong. They were dreadful, husband and I caught it badly last summer, fever and very sick for a few weeks (during the stay in HK and back in France). Take every precautions. I am not too worry about stomach problem in HK and Tokyo though.

Wife and I just got our flu shots at Kaiser yesterday, should have those anti-bodies working by the time we land Tuesday. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the warning. Nothing like getting sick and losing your appetite during a trip.

You caught the flu in HKG during the summer!? Yikes.

I could eat off the floors of most joints in Japan and no worries. Hong Kong, I’m a bit more wary (I was born in Hong Kong). Its only been the last few years that I’ve been able to really enjoy the hole-in-wall eateries in Hong Kong and other SE Asia countries.

1 Like

Me too, if it was not my husband insisting, I will never eat street food!

Have you been to Taiwan? I’ve been going at least twice a year for the last 25 years. For the most part, I’d always been “fussy”, cause I was a slave to Westernized sanitary quirks , eg, HOT water to wash dishes, etc… I’d always enjoyed the local cuisine of whatever country I visited, but stuck mostly to actual sit down restaurants that look like they have hot water and a proper cold chain in the kitchen.

Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong are our favorite countries for food. I’m glad that I am quickly getting over my reluctance to embrace all the foods of these countries.

1 Like

Never been to Taiwan, want to go one day, street food is famous there. In Vietnam, I was worried about the street food in the beginning, but never got sick. Got a slight stomach pain after a cold drink (beware of ice, they dragged on the ground), but was fine the next day. I always ate cooked food, avoid buying cut fruits. In Thailand, intestine problem with the hot chilis. In Malaysia, the spicy food caused me swollen lips and mouth. Most of the time, I overate, so digestion problem instead. :grin::rofl:

It wasn’t so bad in Cambodia, just a numb type of stomach pain that came and went repeatedly for a few days. We could still eat normally.

1 Like

Hence the Alka Selzer!!

Before we visited VN, I was very concerned about the ice, fresh fruits and herbs. Once we hit our first restaurant, how the heck can you NOT partake from the pile of fresh herbs served with most meals!!?? We just threw caution to the wind and prayed that the Pepto will be our savior.

I learned (right/wrongly) that ice with a hole in the middle meant it was commercial ice, thus safe. ok, right. Never eat pre-cut fruits while abroad, no matter how toothsome they appear, a definite no-no. I’d just buy a cheap sharp knife the first day, then can gorge on all the papaya, mango, pineapple, mangosteen, guava, I purchase whole from street venders.